‘Do What You Can’ Powers 1st Climate Change Village (Pub incl.)

By Stephen Leahy, Inter Press Service News Agency

The village of Ashton Hayes in Cheshire, England is aiming to be the first carbon-neutral community in the England (Golden Lion pub included).

In just two years, the 1,000 residents have saved 20 percent on their energy costs and transformed their community.

“It’s been great fun and an amazing boost in community spirit,” said Garry Charnock, who put the idea to some friends in the local pub. “I thought they’d think of me as a bit of a crank, but they were all for it.”

More than 75 percent of the village showed up for the first meetings, something that had never happened before. Charnock told IPS that people are worried about climate change and want to do something but are reluctant to do it on their own. Unwittingly, Charnock’s notion of a carbon-neutral village unleashed the power of community.

People share ideas and statistics on energy use, and make suggestions for improvements while sitting in the pub. There’s been a remarkable transition over a huge range of behaviours, he says. People are converting their front lawns into vegetable gardens to reduce the carbon used in transporting food. To reduce car use, they lobbied the local town council to build a footpath to the train station.

One key to Ashton Hayes’ success has been the philosophy of not blaming anyone or forcing people to participate. They adopted a “do what you can” attitude. Older residents say the community spirit and common purpose is similar to that during World War II.

“It wasn’t the main idea but people are also saving a lot of money now on their energy costs,” Charnock said.

For complete article please see: Soaring Energy Costs May Force Low-CO2 Living.

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